Prince Ghazi is well known for his interfaith work and dialogue across the world, including his participation with other Muslim leaders in producing the interfaith document ‘A Common Word,’ published in 2007. This document focuses on the issues that bring Christianity and Islam together rather than what divides or separates these two world religions. During his lecture, Prince Ghazi spoke about the importance of this document.
In view of the carnage that was taking place some 200 miles to the south even as Prince Ghazi spoke, the message of God’s unifying love – a love shared by Muslims and Christians - expressed in that document is perhaps even more relevant ten years on.
Because Prince Ghazi’s most important message was the importance of understanding that Islam and Christianity have the same core message: love. Love is a gift from God. Love is not something that we can throw away. It is the foundation of both Islam and Christianity. In his talk, Prince Ghazi said ‘Love is a mystery.’ It isn’t for us to figure out. It is a gift that brings us together. Prince Ghazi cited passages from the Christian Bible as well as the Koran. One of my own favourite biblical passages about love in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, says:
‘Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoicing in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.’
Love consists of many different elements, but most importantly love is essential in Christianity and as Prince Ghazi stressed, this concept is the same in Islam.
Those of us who attended Prince Ghazi’s lecture were, of course, unaware how important its message would become in the hours and days ahead as we learned of the individual and collective tragedies of the Manchester Arena bombing. The evil that has happened this week in Manchester does not represent Islam, nor would it represent Christianity. Love is an essential part of Islam as it is of Christianity. Let’s love our neighbour as our shared God has told us.